47 Nigerian men accused of homosexuality arraigned

The police in Lagos on Wednesday brought 47 men before a Federal High Court Lagos for allegedly engaging in amorous gay relationships.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defendants were arraigned at 4.12p.m. on a one-count charge of engaging in amorous gay relationships.

All the defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

After their pleas, the prosecutor, J.I. Ebhoremen, urged the court to remand them in a correctional facility, saying their crime was heinous.

However, defence counsel, Israel Usman, opposed the request and prayed the court to grant them bail.

He attached a four-paragraph affidavit in support of the bail application.

Justice Mohammed Aikawa held that although the charge against the defendants was serious, it was bailable.

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He granted each of the defendants bail in the sum of M500,000, with two sureties each in like sum.

The judge held that one of the sureties must be a civil servant of grade level 10 or above, while the other should have a reasonable means of income to be verified by the court.

He held that each of the defendants should sign an undertaking not to delay trial.

Mr Aikawa, however, ruled that pending perfection of their bail, the defendants should be remanded in police custody for 48 hours and afterward be transferred to a correctional facility if they could not meet the bail conditions.

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Although the defence counsel immediately applied to the court for a variation of the bail conditions, the judge held that it was only where the defendants were unable to meet the bail conditions that an application for variation could be necessary.

The judge adjourned the case until Dec. 11 for trial.

Earlier, the police alleged that the defendants were arrested at a hotel in Egbeda, Lagos, on Aug. 25, 2018, adding that they were picked up at 2.00a.m. while performing gay initiation rites for newly-recruited members.

They were first arraigned before a Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in Lagos and pleaded not guilty to a three-count charge of conspiracy, membership of a secret cult, and unlawful gathering.

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Chief Magistrate Kikelomo Ayeye had admitted each of them to bail in the sum of ₦200,000 each, with one surety each in the like sum.

In the charge before the Federal High Court and marked FHC/1/311C, the police alleged that the defendants made “public show of a same sex amorous relationship with each other in hidden places within Kelly Hotel”, Egbeda.

The police said that the defendants’ actions contravened the provisions of Section 5(2) of the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act, 2013.(NAN)

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